Imagine a shoplifter being caught in a department store. He is held there until the police arrive. The police officer then pays for the stolen goods, and gives them back to the shoplifter before setting him free!
That’s exactly what happened to a young man attempting to steal clothes in a Walmart store in Toronto recently. thestar.com reported that the eighteen year old had stolen a dress shirt, tie and socks. Police officer, Niran Jeyanesan, realised that there was more to this case, and began to question him about why he wanted the clothes. The young man reluctantly explained that his father was ill and couldn’t work. So he himself had decided to find a job to help his family. He’d even been offered an interview, but needed clothes to go in.
“He was very remorseful, very ashamed,” said Jeyanesan. “I could see that this is truly a mistake and this person wanted a chance at life.” So he paid for the shirt and tie himself before taking the young man to the police station, where they decided not to charge him. He was given the clothes, which he wore for the interview, and got the job!
“It was a case that allowed us to use our discretion. You could truly see that this person was trying to do something with his life,” Jeyanesan said, “This is a chance where we get to do something good. We all make mistakes and someone, at some point, gives us a second chance.”
By his actions, police officer, Niran Jeyanesan, showed us what our Creator is like. In my previous post, “Heaven … a free gift?”, I explained how the love and acceptance of our Creator is a genuinely free gift. For our part, maybe we, like the shoplifter, have regrets, things on our conscience, times when we could have behaved differently, less selfishly, more calmly or honestly perhaps, and yet God comes to us offering forgiveness, acceptance and love no matter who we are and no matter what we’ve done.
All this is possible because Jesus, like the police officer, has paid the cost of the forgiveness that we don’t deserve. Out of His love for us, Jesus willingly went to the cross 2,000 years ago. We often think of a cross as an item of jewellery, but it was actually the place where Jesus took the weight of all of our wrongdoing, and paid the ultimate price by dying in our place. Through His death, Jesus took away the barrier between ourselves and our Creator. Consequently, we can come to Him in prayer and thank Him for His amazing gift, admitting we’ve gone our own way for too long, and making that decision to follow Him. The way to God is open to all who will receive the new life that Jesus offers. As the lyrics to this song by Graham Kendrick tell us:
“The price is paid,
Come let us enter in
To all that Jesus died
To make our own.
More than enough He gave
And bought our freedom
From each guilty stain.”